In the Offing

The Guardian’s Technology column has a few words on the apparent reluctance of the public to embrace e-books. They cite this parallel with the nascent digital music industry.

The real reason that the music industry came around to the idea of downloads wasn’t because they had a startling insight into the future, or even because Apple forced the issue by building a clever ecosystem around the iPod (it didn’t launch the iTunes store until 2003). It was because customers were choosing to pirate instead.

I’m not sure I buy this argument. For my part, I was sold on the idea of music on my computer (it happened to be a PC in my student digs) just because it was convenient. E-books may or may not be a target for pirates. I rather think, though, that audiobooks are much the riper for the picking. (Cf. This recent talk by Stephen Fry in which he evangelises audiobooks.)

Carry on, m’hearties.

Handsomely now.

Why aren’t ebooks taking off? Not enough pirates | Technology |

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Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

2 thoughts on “In the Offing”

  1. The Guardian fails to take into consideration that music is experienced in a physically different way to how we experience literature. If you are taking in something visually, with tactile elements (holding the book or scrolling a webpage) as you do when you are reading, then things like mise en page and the book as object become much more important. While album artwork and owning a physical object aren’t irrelevant, because of the nature of audio, they aren’t as integral to the music listening experience as the physical book.

    I think you’re right about audiobooks, much more likely both for digital distribution and pirating.

  2. I’ve heard that point made, Katherine, and I do agree with it to an extent, but I remember musicos getting quite hung up on the fact that CDs would never be popular as a music delivery system because they lacked the physicality of the old vinyl discs with their covers.

    My feeling is that the physicality of books is important to me; but, then, I’ve grown up reading books in dead tree format.

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